I love Louis C.K.'s stand-up, and few people are funnier talk-show guests. But I admit I was no fan of his first attempt at a television show, HBO's "Lucky Louie." I tried to like it, but the vulgarity-to-comedy ratio skewed way too far into the humorless vulgarity spectrum for me (with "humorless" being the more offensive of those crimes).
There's still plenty of vulgar humor in his new show, "Louie," debuting with back-to-back new episodes tonight on FX, but it's so perfectly balanced and so funny, that even the really squirmy parts go down easy.
Louis plays himself on the show, interspersing his stand-up routines with real-life situations. He's a divorced father of two little girls, and he's a good, conscientious dad. But because he's Louis C.K., he's also pretty warped.
Jon Stewart recently joked with C.K. on "The Daily Show" that he thought 11 p.m. was "still too early" for this show to air, and he has a valid point. However, the very first episode is pretty tame. It's quite good, but they definitely ramp up the crudeness in episode two.
The 11pm installment is made up of little vignettes: stand-up, time with the kids; stand-up, a bad first date; stand-up, the end. It has some very nice moments, but the real personality of the show becomes apparent in the subsequent episodes, which have a less rigid structure (and thankfully, no fantasy sequences). Episode 2 is about divorce and post-divorce sex. Episode 3 with Ricky Gervais as a physician scores a 4.999 out of 5 on the Squirm Meter, but it's still very funny. Episode 4 features Pamela Adlon, who played C.K.'s wife in his old HBO series.
Bottom line: If you just can't stomach really offensive language (there's almost nothing they don't say), really sexually explicit terminology (and situations), really politically incorrect behavior, nudity, and pretty much every other foul thing you can think of, then this show is not for you.
But if you have some leeway there and like your edgy sitcom with a little heart and a lot of funny, give "Louie" a chance.
"Louie" airs on Tuesday nights at 11pm (still too early!) on FX, right after "Rescue Me." This week is the only week showing two back-to-back new episodes.